Paper Towels and Racor Filters

Not sure if this should go in the Offshore category or this one. I have a FB friend who just got a job (yeah, amazing) on a crewboat. He made a post about how they are using Bounty paper towel rolls as filter elements in their Racor filter system, complete with photos. . . . I mentioned that this probably wasn’t the best practice. . . he stated that it was what the Captain told him to do. . . . I am guessing that this is an oil patch kind of thing, but my mind reels with the problems that it creates. . . . ended up getting into a bit of a heated exchange with one of his buddies regarding the water separating characteristics of a Racor filter system, but that is not the topic here. . . .

Just wondering if this was a common method of operation.

I have seen this before but it was years ago. I also saw one old crew boat that used tube socks zipped tied to the tube in the racor housing. I didn’t think they did this anymore to tell you the truth.

I have seen this to, back in the late 80’s thru the early 90’s.

I did this many years ago on crewboats and utility boats. I would take a few wraps off so it would go in and out easier. You must change them every 100 hours of runtime. If not they will suck down to the size of a roll of toilet paper.

Saw this on both a crewboat and utility boat. Both boats, maybe coincidence maybe not, were graham hulls.

The primary filters weren’t actually racor brand however…I forget the manufacturer…

Yeah you were right. You should have posted it in the “offshore” category.

[QUOTE=KPChief;167703]Yeah you were right. You should have posted it in the “offshore” category.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, but I was trying to get non oil patch feedback. Hard to do that on this forum. . . . . .

[QUOTE=cmakin;167723]Yeah, but I was trying to get non oil patch feedback. Hard to do that on this forum. . . . . .[/QUOTE]

When you’re working on the back deck of a tug with a loaded barge on a short hawser running full speed with Captain Cowboy in the wheelhouse even the dumbest deckhand can see that it’s important that the engine doesn’t stop. I"ve seen some stupid shit but I"ve never seen anyone fuck around with the fuel system.

Do you use a specific brand of paper towel? Is " the quicker picker upper" with thirst pockets better than say the store brand???

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;167727]When you’re working on the back deck of a tug with a loaded barge on a short hawser running full speed with Captain Cowboy in the wheelhouse even the dumbest deckhand can see that it’s important that the engine doesn’t stop. I"ve seen some stupid shit but I"ve never seen anyone fuck around with the fuel system.[/QUOTE]

What starts as an emergency work around becomes the norm when they see; 1) it works, and 2) the cost of paper towels is cheaper than the cost of Racor filters. The fuel may flow through the “paper towel” filter element and may catch the bigger particles but I doubt if it has the same particle rating of the Racor filters.

[QUOTE=Chief Seadog;167733]What starts as an emergency work around becomes the norm when they see; 1) it works, and 2) the cost of paper towels is cheaper than the cost of Racor filters. The fuel may flow through the “paper towel” filter element and may catch the bigger particles but I doubt if it has the same particle rating of the Racor filters.[/QUOTE]

I can see that, I don’t need to tell you this but if the paper towel dissolves and is getting smaller as you use it where does the paper AND the dirt it trapped go?

Altitudes in different sectors are different. For example, the local lobstermen here in Maine. There’s an summer inshore fishery and a winter offshore fishery. If the inshore summer guys break down they can literally wave down another boat and get a tow. Also if the weather changes they can duck in somewhere. The offshore guys in winter time it’s a whole other animal.

I suspect the same thing here. A small work boat is close to help.

EDIT: Just did a quick google search. Evidently people do use TP or paper towels. Just a quick skim but seems like they are doing it in-line with the normal fuel filters.

As for using paper towels instead of factory filters, I would think there are better places to save money.

Have to save a lot of money if you shorten injector life.

On a turbo jimmy in crewboat service engine life is about the same as injector life, from how I’ve seen those boats run!

[QUOTE=cmakin;167723]Yeah, but I was trying to get non oil patch feedback. Hard to do that on this forum. . . . . .[/QUOTE]

Hey I was just being a bit facetious. However, your instincts are not wrong - it is NOT a best practice. It doesn’t much interest me as an “engineering” topic of discussion. I suspect for a great many in the modern OSV / PSV or “offshore” segment it doesn’t much matter as a legitimate topic either but that is just a guess on my part.

But as far as “non oil patch” input goes, here’s some…

For me this sort of thing falls into a body of marine engineering hmm, knowledge would be too kind, more like “information” somewhere between pure apocryphal - old wives tales - and something someone heard someone else did one time that becomes credible in certain peoples minds for whatever reason. I suspect there is some of what Chief Seadog said about an emergency work around becoming the root of a common practice among a certain operator or crew. They got away with something and made a what is ultimately a poor decision. They may continue to get away with it or not.

I can’t fathom the risk/reward thought process that would result in doing this as the standard procedure for operating any engine. About the only thing I see in common between a roll of paper towels and a pleated paper filter element is that they both started out as trees. Putting that in a filter housing is well, dumb. If they were the same thing or equivalent that is what you would see when you opened a box of filters. From the absolute micron rating to the Beta rating to how it is constructed (internally / externally supported) to how it behaves when clogged to the way the filter is sealed in the housing, the risk to downstream injectors, injection pumps etc all militate against doing it.

If the brand name elements are too expensive go to one of the dozens of filter houses / suppliers and get a cheaper equivalent. They’re a commodity item now and there is competition since they make them fit each others housings for the most part.

The point you made about the water separation aspect of a Racor should not be besides the point either. Why replace a coalescer / separator element with a pure dirt filter and give up a layer of protection to the engine?

Yes the US “maritime industry” is not a homogeneous entity and even though it is made up of different segments with their own history, heritage, customs and ways of doing things, some things are universal and this idea as normal operating routine is not a good one.

It can be a short trip from “ain’t I cool look what I did with a roll of paper towels” to being the object of a cautionary tale when you lose propulsion / power and cause some damage.

Never heard of wrapping a Racor with a paper towel but these things that have been around forever. I suppose as a quick fix one could wrap a Racor with something but they aren’t that expensive to keep in stock.
http://www.frantzoil.com/polishing_diesel_fuel.html

It’s been a long time since I thought about those things.Graham and CBI used to run them on the DD boats. I don’t think they were Racor housings.CBI and Graham were both heavily influenced by the shrimpers from the towns that the companies were located, so the practice probably started that way. I do remember being told that they had to be bounty,though.I remember having to run to the grocery store for a crew boat with 16-149s because the office had started cheaping out on cleaning supplies and went with generics. The captain swore up and down that no other brand would work. Who know?

I’d have to imagine generic and cheap ones would disintegrate really fast and you’d get a lot of paper particles going through.

I see there are some goody to shoes on here. If a 89 Cent roll of bounty works and Joe Boss is on the line who cares? When is the last time this has been an issue???

You suggest a $40 filter when it has been proven that a 89 cent roll of paper towels works???

Main thing is KEEP UP WITH MAINTENANCE…

Someone posted about water. No it’s not going to happen. It keeps trash out of the fuel. A Racor will only hold so much water, if you have a good deckineer then it shouldn’t be a problem.

[/QUOTE][QUOTE=KPChief;167748]
It can be a short trip from “ain’t I cool look what I did with a roll of paper towels” to being the object of a cautionary tale when you lose propulsion / power and cause some damage.

This is my thinking as well, I’d need to see the technical bulletin.

Don’t know about the paper towel things but in general I don’t like learning things at the same time as the chief. Not a fuel system but automation on a an ummanned E/R, what was thought to be a clever workaround for failed equipment ended up costing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Turns out sophisticated control systems are designed to be segregated in such a way that a failure in one section will not travel to another section and cause damage there as well, stray currents or voltage for example. Chief and I learned this at the same time. That chief is “no longer with the company” as they say.

Joe jack or jeaux bawse…whatever…they can afford bounty with the savings of not buying the proper element…
also, calling all primaries racors is a bit broad. This is the same of someone calling all colas coke or pepsi and all ear swabs q-tips. On the vessels I have been on that i saw this, the primary filter housing was a different manufacturer than racor. I remember them having a picture of a boat on them.
These boats I saw this on, were graham boats but hand me downs. As far as non oilfield input, I don’t know what exactly was meant by that. All I know is whether we like it or not most workboats be it crew utility supply or tugs are and were built in the gulf.

Regardless (if it works or not), if something does happen, and lives are lost, and the court asks about maintenance history and OEM recommended parts…and you answer with a roll of Bounty in the fuel system, say bye to your wife and kids. You are going to jail for a very long time, if you are lucky. For fucks sake, think about your family before doing something stupid. Using OEM parts also take liability away as well, beside being more dependable and suited for purpose - for a few bucks?